Why Including Social Feeds in Search is Bad for Consumers

 

The inclusion of Twitter feeds in Google search results may seem vaguely interesting on first inspection, and its impact on search results is at best speculative, but the stats below, in my opinion, mean that this could actually be misleading for consumers . The majority of users are still using Google search as their primary source (and only source in many cases) of information on a brand. Only 28% of users are using social networks as a source of insights on brands, and by including Tweets in the Google results the inference is that they are being exposed to a wider range of information sources. The problem is that this is purely the brands own social feed, so they get to further curate what the user can see.

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Worse for Older Demographics

Statistically, the older you are the more you use Google as a source of information and the less you use other sources, such as social, for researching brands or products. This means, thanks to the inclusion of Twitter feeds, that these users are potentially being exposed to a wider range of information sources within Google itself. The problem is that these are again from the brand itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as if I’ve searched for a brand, this maybe what I want. But it also may not. Until this inclusion of Twitter feed, Google would use its algorithm to decide relevance, so I would have expected any mentions of the brand, in some sort of filtered way to be showing up. However, in it’s current form it’s a reasonably unfiltered view of the brand’s Tweets.

Google Must Decide What It Wants To Be

This reflects something that is going on at Google that is both useful and challenging. Previously if I searched in Google for the ‘best price’ of something, I got a list of price comparison sites. If I searched for a definition, I got a list of definition sites. Now however, Google is offering definitions directly (pulled from other people’s content) and doing price comparison themselves. This positioning as arbiter of content, rather than filter, is extremely significant. Perhaps this is semantics, but what I do believe is that this needs more open debate.

PS. Google, please don’t remove my Twitter feed from my brand results! As a brand owner I love it!

 

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